Chops City Grill
8200 Health Center Boulevard
Bonita Springs, Florida
When was the last time you opened the bill at the end of a fine meal at a very nice restaurant and laughed. That is exactly what Eileen and I did on Tuesday evening after having a splendid meal at Chops City Grill in Bonita Springs around the corner from the Coconut Point Mall. We had spent some time checking out the outside mall at Coconut Point and decided to find a place to have dinner. We have been pretty good about making our own dinners at the RV and decided we had earned a decent dinner at a restaurant.
We did not see any place out of the ordinary at the mall. There was a host of regulars like Olive Garden, Ted’s Montana Grill and TGI Fridays. We have nothing against any of these places. We have eaten at all of them and enjoyed them but we were looking for something different. We decided to head back to the RV and saw Chops basically by accident. We called and made a reservation for 6 pm. After checking out the menu we realized that Chops is a fine steak house in the tradition of others we have frequented especially our favorite J. Gilbert’s in Connecticut.
We arrived back at Chops at approximately 5:45. At this point you may be asking, “Why do we need the chronology here?” In due time – in due time. (Sorry – Another bad pun) We were seated right away and handed our menu and the wine list. I noticed that the price all of the items was digitally crossed out with a lower price in red substituted. When the waiter arrived, and took our drink order, he pointed out the special deal which we had not noticed at the top of the menu. If you ordered before 6 pm, you received a free bottle of wine, two free salads and all of the appetizers and entrees were twenty percent off. Having quickly perused the menu before leaving the RV, we had a good idea what we wanted so we ordered with two minutes to spare.
Not being a wine drinker, and knowing that Eileen is particular about wines, I fully expected that the wine would be less than satisfactory. The waiter brought a bottle of Vista Point Chardonnay. He poured a glass for Eileen. She thought it was actually very good. Chalk one up for Chops.
Eileen ordered the house salad and I ordered a Caesar salad. In the meantime, sour-dough bread was delivered with a butter and basil oil mixture. Both were very good. Our salads were delivered and we were both shocked by the size and ingredients. Eileen’s salad was not only plentiful, but had a variety of her favorites things including organic lettuces, heirloom tomatoes, tangerine greens with nuts, seeds and her all-time favorite – beets.
For entrees Eileen ordered stuffed flounder with jumbo shrimp scampi. She requested mashed cauliflower in place of the potatoes. I ordered the short rib stroganoff on rigatoni with a special added ingredient which I had forgotten once I ordered.
Our meals were delivered after we had finally finished our hefty salads. When mine was put in front of me I was a bit perplexed.
The waiter just happened to be coming by again and I asked, “I’m sorry, but what are the suds?” Hiding his obvious embarrassment on my behalf, he reminded me that it was white truffle foam. I had forgotten that part of the description probably because I had no idea what white truffle foam was. If you are now saying, “ Of course. White truffle foam.”, shame on you for lying. You know the old saying, “You can take the boy out of (Hartford in this case), but you can’t take the Hartford out of the boy!” You would think that a person who was the Principal of a technical high school, with the best culinary program in the system, might know this. I guess not.
My culinary snafu behind me, we tasted our entrees. Everything was delicious. Eileen said that the flounder was fresh and the stuffing had plenty of crab and light on the breading. She loved the mashed cauliflower and actually asked me to taste it. My thought was that after 32 years of marriage, if she is asking me to taste cauliflower, it must be good. I tasted it. (Pause for the chorus of angels) It was very good. I actually would have eaten a fair amount of this mixture had it been served as a part of my meal.
My short ribs and rigatoni were excellent. The ribs were tender and had just a hint of juicy and tasty fat. Not enough to get me into trouble, but enough to lend flavor. I would love to say what a difference the “suds” made in the overall presentation and flavor. I can’t. I found no discernable difference. I am sure the chef felt good about his effort.
Neither of us finished the meal. Eileen because she was full. I ,on the other hand, was purposely leaving room for coffee and dessert. Most of the desserts were your standards like cheesecake and chocolate whatever. I ordered freshly cut organic apples in a pie crust with bourbon walnut caramel topped with homemade cinnamon gelato and whipped cream. I told the waiter to bring two spoons. Even though she was saying no, I knew I could talk Eileen into trying it. It lived up to the description. The cinnamon gelato was tremendous and the caramel made the dessert. Anything with bourbon in it has to be good.
Back to the beginning of this tale. The waiter brought the bill. I was still stuffing my face with dessert, and Eileen started laughing. She said, “You have to see this.” The bill for this tremendous meal with a bottle of wine, a mixed drink, an appetizer, two salads, two very good entrees and dessert and coffee was 85 dollars! We started doing comparative math. If you subtracted ten dollars for my drink and the fifteen dollars for the coffee and dessert it was 60 dollars! Subtract another ten for the appetizer – 50 dollars!
When we got back to the RV Eileen could not wait to share our good fortune with our kids. Sarah said something along the lines of,” Eating at 6 ? – my God you two are old!” and Maura texted, “Early bird special” with a thumbs up. I do not know where they learned to be such wise-asses.
We were told that next month the special will be knocked back to 5:30. I don’t care what the two smart-alecks back home say about our age. We will be there at 5!